(Tap footnote number to read it; tap up arrow (↑) to scroll back up to verse. Old Testament quotations/allusions are underlined.)
Don’t Seek the praise of men
- “Now, beware not to do your righteousness in front of men, in order to be seen(1)“be seen” The Greek word here is “θεάομαι” (theaomai), which refers to spectators who watch something, like a theater. In fact, theaomai is the root of the Greek word “θέατρον” (theatron); which both means “theater” and is the root of our English word “theater”. by them. Otherwise, you have no reward(4)“reward” is literally “wages”, as a reward for work. from your Father in the heavens.
- “Therefore, when you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet in front of you just like the hypocrites.(2)“hypocrites” the Greek word here literally refers to a “theater actor”. In those days, actors often wore masks during their performances and thus were (figuratively) a “two-faced” person; i.e. they say one thing and do another. Jesus was using some clever wordplay here. (see note on previous verse) They do this in the synagogues and on the crowded streets so they might receive glory from men. Truly I tell you; they have traded away(3)“have traded away” is a single word in Greek meaning “to have something, because far away from something else“. their reward.(5)“reward” is literally “wages”, as a reward for work.
- “But you, when giving to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
- “so your giving to the poor might be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward(6)“reward” the Greek word here literally means “to give back” or “return”; especially what is due in payment. you.
- “And when you pray, you will not be like the hypocrites. For they did – and still do – love standing in the synagogues and on the corners of wide streets to pray, so they might be seen by men. Truly I tell you; they have traded away(7)“have traded away” is a single word in Greek meaning “to have something, because far away from something else“. their reward.(8)“reward” is literally “wages”, as a reward for work.
- “But when you pray, go into your inner room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
- “Now, when praying, don’t prattle endlessly like the pagans. For they assume that in their many words they will be listened to.
- “Therefore, don’t become like them. For God your Father did – and still does – see, and thus knows(9)“did – and still does – see, and thus knows ” is one word in the Greek, which refers to “seeing that becomes knowing”. Here it’s in the Greek perfect tense, which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses. what you need before you ask Him.
The Lord’s Prayer
- “Therefore, pray like this; “Our Father in the heavens,(10)Literally “Our Father, the in the heavens”. The Greek definite article (“the” in English) can stand in for a pronoun (he, she it, them, they, etc.), which is where you get the traditional “our Father, who art in heaven“. However, it doesn’t have to stand in for a pronoun. hallowed be your name.
- “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
- “Give us this day our daily bread.
- “And forgive us our debts,(11)“debts” the Greek word used here can also have the connotation of a sin or offense. as we also forgive those indebted to us.
- “And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from evil. [For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory through the ages. Amen.](12)This doxology is present in some early/important manuscripts but absent in others.
- “For if you forgive men their sinful slip-ups,(13)“sinful slip-ups”. The Greek word used here doesn’t quite mean “sin”. It’s the word “παράπτωμα” (paraptóma) which is also used in Ephesians 2:1 in the phrase: “dead in your ‘paraptóma’ and sins”. It carries the connotation of a “slip-up” with the strong implication – but not certainty – that it was unintentional. your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
- “But if you don’t forgive men [their sinful slip-ups,(14)“sinful slip-ups”. The Greek word used here doesn’t quite mean “sin”. It’s the word “παράπτωμα” (paraptóma) which is also used in Ephesians 2:1 in the phrase: “dead in your ‘paraptóma’ and sins”. It carries the connotation of a “slip-up” with the strong implication – but not certainty – that it was unintentional.]; neither will your Father forgive your sinful slip-ups.
- “Now, when you fast; don’t become gloomy like the hypocrites. For they neglect their faces so they might be seen as fasting to men. Truly I tell you; they have traded away(15)“have traded away” is a single word in Greek meaning “to have something, because far away from something else“. their reward.(16)“reward” is literally “wages”, as a reward for work.
- “When you’re fasting however, anoint your head with oil and wash your face.
- “So this way, you might not appear as fasting to men, but to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Treasure in heaven
- “Don’t store up your treasures on the earth where moth and eating consume, and where thieves break in and steal.
- “But, store up treasures in heaven; where neither moth nor eating consume, and where thieves don’t break in or steal.
- “For wherever your treasure is, your heart will be there too.
- “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, if your eye isn’t warped,(17)“eye isn’t warped” According to some sources, this is an idiom which means “to be generous”, in the sense of giving to others/charity. This makes excellent sense when you consider the context. The phrase is literally “is not warped”, with “not warped” being a single Greek word that literally means “without folds” (J. Thayer). It carries a similar moral connotation of “upright”, in the sense of not being crooked, bent, evil, etc. While “isn’t folded” would be more literally correct, it would be confusing because we don’t associate “folding” with crooked morals. However, we do associate “warped” with them; hence the translation choice here. your whole body will be full of light.
- “But if your eye is evil,(18)“eye is evil” according to some sources, this is an idiom which means “to be stingy”. i.e. hoarding your wealth in an unhealthy way. your whole body will be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?(19)In Greek, an interrogative pronoun (similar to our word “how”) is used, making it a question. Many translations end this sentence with an exclamation point, which makes it a statement rather than a true question. Jesus may have intended it as a rhetorical question, but it’s hard to be certain from the text. Therefore, it has been translated as a question here.
- “No one can serve as a slave for two lords. For either he will hate one by comparison and the other he will prefer; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve as a slave to God and the treasure you trust in.(20)“the treasure you trust in” is a single word in Greek, with that exact meaning.
No Need to be anxious
- “Because of this I tell you: don’t be anxious about your life, what you might eat or what you might drink. Not even about your body and what clothes you might wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?
- “Look(21)“look” the Greek word here implies intently looking to understand at the birds of the sky. For they don’t plant, nor harvest, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Don’t you have much more value than they do?
- “And who among you – by being anxious – can add one hour to his life?
- “And about clothing; why are you anxious? Learn and fully understand(22)“Learn and fully understand” is one word in Greek. It means to understand something by studying it thoroughly. This word is related to the Greek word for “disciple”, but has the added force of an intensifying prefix. the lilies of the field; how do they grow? They don’t exhaust themselves with work nor do they spin.(23)Spinning is an ancient process of turning animal fibers (hair) into thread, which was then woven into fabric, which was made into clothes. Spinning was a very labor intensive process before modern machinery.
- “But I tell you: not even Solomon in all his glory dressed himself like one of these.
- “Further, if the grass of the field – being here today and tomorrow thrown into a furnace – God clothes like this; won’t He much more clothe you of little faith?
- “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying: what will we eat? Or, what will we drink? Or, what clothes will we wear?
- “For all these, the nations longingly seek. Indeed, your heavenly Father did – and still does – see, and thus knows(24)“did – and still does – see, and thus knows ” is one word in the Greek, which refers to “seeing that becomes knowing”. Here it’s in the Greek perfect tense, which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses. that you need them all.
- “So seek first the kingdom [of God] and His righteousness, and all these will be added to you.
- “Therefore, don’t be anxious about tomorrow, because tomorrow will be anxious itself. Each day has enough trouble on its own.
Next: Matthew chapter 7
Previous: Matthew chapter 5
Up: BOS Bible Index
Note: If you think a word, phrase, or passage could be better translated - or is wrong - then Please Say Something. This is an open source Bible that's accountable to all Christians. See this link for details.
Legal Use: Please feel free to quote the BOS Bible, but follow the guidelines on the Legal Use page when doing so. They are easy and mostly common sense.